A baseball card mystery: George Scott’s 1973 Topps card

This 1973 Topps card has always puzzled me. Oh, I know that the featured players are George Scott, wearing those classic old road blues of the Brewers, and Bert Campaneris, sporting the Kelly green of the A’s. Scott is about to slap a late tag onto Campaneris on an attempted pickoff play. There is no mistaking the identity of those players, though it is a strange coincidence that Campaneris is featured on so many cards of other players in the 1973 set.

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The real questions have to do with the background of the card. Look more closely at the outlines of Campaneris and Scott. It appears as if their figures have been superimposed onto the background, which shows the stands down the right field line, presumably at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. It’s almost likes a blue screen technique used in a cheaply made movie.

Now look more closely at those fans in the stands. They don’t appear to be looking at the pickoff attempt at first base. It appears that the fans are looking toward either second base or third base, where no action is taking place. These fans definitely appear to be from a different game, looking at action that has nothing to do with Scott and Campaneris.

So what in the world is going on here? Why would Topps take the foreground figures of Scott and Campaneris, along with the playing field, and superimpose them onto a false background? What is the point of doing that?

I’ve read one theory that says that the background stands are actually from County Stadium in Milwaukee, and not from the Oakland Coliseum. Perhaps some of our readers, those who are familiar with the old ballpark in Milwaukee, could offer some insight as to whether it is actually County Stadium.

And if it is County Stadium, the same question persists. Why? Was it because there were too many empty seats at the Oakland Coliseum? Or is there some other reason behind this baseball card mystery?

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Comments

  1. NoPepperGames said...

    Any chance it was a spring training game? If it was, there wouldn’t have been a crowd (and possibly even outfield seats), as spring training wasn’t the vacation destination it is these days.

  2. Jim G. said...

    I’m going to offer a partial possibility. While NPG pointed out correctly it may have been a spring training game, as both teams were in the Cactus League in 1973, I believe this is from the June 5th game in Oakland. Despite the artistic trickery, the uniforms are not altered, so we can assume it’s a home game for the A’s. There were two series in Oakland for the Brewers in ‘73. June 4-6 and Aug. 17-19. The reason I think it’s June 5 is:
    Both June 5th (Tues.) and 6th (Wed.) had quite pathetic crowds of 3623 and 3788, respectively. I’m assuming these weekday games are played at night (bad assumption?). The shot looks like natural light on the players (even despite the superimposition). If it were early in the game the lights would not have taken effect yet, and on the 5th Campenaris led the game off with a walk. On the 6th he wouldn’t reach until the 4th inning. Still possibly light, but I’m sticking with the 5th.
    In the Aug. series the smallest crowd was 8248. Still poor, but over double the two June games.
    So, if the shot was taken on the 5th of June with a paltry crowd of 3K-ish, the outfield stands probably looked pretty empty. If I’m off base with the “natural light” theory, then I would still contend that it was either June 5th or 6th. As Bruce speculated, Topps superimposed the background to give the impression of a crowded stadium.

  3. hep3 said...

    Jim G.,

    Wouldn’t the 1973 card be produced before June 4-6, or Aug 17-19 of the 1973 season?  Perhaps it is a shot from 1972?

  4. Bruce Markusen said...

    hep3, you are correct. The photo almost certainly would have been taken during the previous season of 1972.

  5. BlftBucco said...

    I’ve stared at this card so much the past day trying to make sense of it that I’m sick of looking at it!

    Gotta admit, I’m totally confused.

    The background wall sure looks like Milwaukee’s County Stadium.  The playing field looks like it could be from Oakland’s Alameda Stadium. (Looks like too much foul territory for Milwaukee)

    The wall angle looks strange in relation to the playing field.

    When blown up it appears that there is a blue line along George Scott’s back like he was pasted on to the background picture.

    It appears that George Scott’s left arm and right leg were airbrushed.

    Definite Milwaukee powder blue road uniform.

    Why was Campaneris sliding into first base?  Trying to avoid a force out?  Looks like a weird way to avoid a pickoff attempt.

    Seems like more questions than answers.

  6. Cosmic Charlie said...

    I just looked at a bunch of old Coliseum photos, and not a single one shows a yellow line along the top of the fence.  Also, it seems like a shot from this angle would show the A’s bullpen in the background.

    I must agree with Bift – this sure looks like the County Stadium bleachers.

  7. Bruce Markusen said...

    Bucco, Campaneris almost always slid back into first feet first. Most runners go head first, but he preferred the feet first method. So I’m certain it’s a pickoff attempt.

  8. MJ Quirk said...

    For an obvious paste on shot from the 73 Topps set, check out the card of Expos outfielder Boots Day. It reminds me of the 73-74 Hoop card of ABA All Star Warren Jabali.

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